Why Journal?

Journaling is one of those activities that people sometimes do or wish they did. There is a large group who've never journal, have no intentions of journaling and believe it's a complete waste of time. I'm not talking to the latter group, but to those who wish they did.

A collection of journals - not all by any stretch of the imagination. The very top one was used in the 2007/2008 time frame, the bottom two are both from 2011 (beginning and ending of the year) and the brown one is the one that I just finished using. I have others that I have misplaced, but as you can see, I bind my own journals simply because I don't like the ones out there.

Since I've started journaling on a regular basis, I've watched five aspects develop out of journaling:

  1. Organizing my thoughts. Journaling helps me process what bothers me whether about life in general or a story in particular. Through writing it out, I can argue with a problem while allowing the creative juices to flow. Since I'm not sitting in front of the computer while I journal, I don't have that constant reminder that I need to write a chapter today.
  2. Playing out new ideas. Though it is part of the organization, I see it as a different portion. Through this aspect of journaling, I work on story ideas that are not developed enough for a file. The same is true for drawings and other weaving projects. I place the ideas in the journal and let them sit for a bit.
  3. Diving deeper into my faith - it sounds cliché, I realize, but it's true. By arguing with some of the realities of faith, I find that God is bigger than I first realized. Similar to the first, journaling has helped me expand the horizons of what it means to be a Christian today since it provides an unconditional place for me to put down my thoughts.
  4. Developing my arts. I don't draw that well - I admit it, but as the old adage goes: practice makes perfect. Journals hide my missteps away from public yet corral them into one location. The journal also provides a place for me to doodle while I'm trying to develop an idea. Here, I can draw the symbols, images and charts that I need without having them need to be acceptable.
  5. Inspiring future concepts. I admit it - I forget where I put things, especially when it's in a journal such as one from a few years ago. The good thing about journals is that I can follow the first four while I'm journaling then I can return to the journal later and re-read my entries. Sometimes, I glean a truth that I had forgotten about; find a paragraph that suits a situation or, even better, find inspiration for a new story.
Journals are forgiving creatures - you can write only occasionally or every day. It can be a writer's journal, artist journal, personal journal or all of the above journal. They come in a variety of sizes and if you don't find one you like you can always make one for yourself. If you're debating about whether you want to journal or not, I'd say try it for a month; try a variety of journal styles (free-form writing, poetry, drawing, computer, conceptual) to see if one suites you. You might find that the traditional writing journal doesn't work, but another one might.

For those who do journal - what are some things that you've learned in the process? Do you have a favorite way to journal? Is it always writing or do you try other styles of journaling?


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